Metro’s 14 historic cemeteries total 66 acres in Multnomah County and provide an important service for families throughout greater Portland. Six of the cemeteries are still open for new sales.
Metro’s cemeteries program and staff have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Burials increased significantly and safety protocols placed further strain and challenges on services. The cemeteries team has served the community with compassion and grace.
The cemeteries are managed as active facilities, offering scenic tranquility and a unique window into the region’s history. Most were established between 1850 and 1870. The cemeteries are open to visitors and provide opportunities for historic research, bird watching and contemplation in a natural setting.
Block 14 cultural heritage garden moves forward
After many years of planning and collaboration with partner groups, the project to create a cultural heritage garden at Lone Fir Cemetery’s Block 14 is underway.
With input from community members, the Lone Fir Cemetery Foundation, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and the Mental Health Association of Portland, Metro has dedicated $4 million to the project from the Metro park improvements program area of the 2019 parks and nature bond measure.
“We’re delighted that Metro has prioritized this project and is funding it,” said John Laursen, president of the Lone Fir Cemetery Foundation. “The garden will be a place that tells the story of people who were marginalized or forgotten.”
Currently, Block 14 is an empty lot in the southwest corner of the tree-filled Lone Fir Cemetery. But from 1891 to 1928, more than 1,131 Chinese people were buried there. Even earlier, it is believed that more than 200 patients of the Oregon Hospital for the Insane, the state’s first psychiatric hospital, were laid to rest in various areas of Lone Fir Cemetery, including the eastern part of Block 14. Many of their names and stories have been lost to memory, but community members hope the cultural heritage garden will be a place to honor their stories.
“There’s so much history that’s left to be told,” said Marcus Lee, a member of the board of directors of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. “This is a great way to be able to share one part of that, one chapter of that history.”
From “Work to begin on Lone Fir Cemetery’s cultural heritage garden at Block 14”